“Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh. I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac.” Instead of a verse by verse exposition of this chapter, I am going to focus on two key points that are relevant in our day-to-day life (commanded by God) for all of us as believers in Jesus Christ.
1. We see here Abraham commissioning his servant (probably Eliezer – Gen. 15:2) to find a bride for his son Isaac from within the community of faith (2 Cor. 6:14-18) SO THAT God’s promises and purposes to bless the nations through Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3) and his seed (ultimately Jesus Christ; Matt. 1:1-16) would be fulfilled. Two thousand years later Jesus Christ was born in fulfillment of this promise and after completing His saving work on the cross He said to His disciples, which now include all believers: “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:18-20 NLT) God’s plan to reach the nations through Abraham and his descendents (through Jesus Christ) is to continue on through you and me. Also note that in this verse Jesus does not say just to teach disciples His commands BUT- “Teach these new disciples to OBEY all the commands I have given you.” In this account, if the servant and Rebekah had not obeyed God’s will, God’s purposes would have been thwarted (but God would have found someone else to carry it out – see Esther 4:14). There is a great mystery in God’s sovereign will and man’s free will to obey or not obey Him, and theologians are still arguing about this today. But our part as free moral agents is to know God’s will (know the Scriptures) and do what He says (obedience) in His Word. (Phil 2:12-13) This leads to my next point:
2. How can we know God’s unique will and purpose for our lives in carrying out the Great Commission? First of all point #2 won’t happen unless we are motivated to do #1. And an even higher purpose than the Great Commission is to glorify God in everything we do including our daily deeds (1 Cor. 10:31) and obey the Great Commandment to love God supremely and our neighbors for His glory (Matt. 22:37-39). The Great Commission is the best way we can love our neighbors as ourselves – i.e, teaching them to obey God’s Word to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation (Rom. 10:9 –evangelism) and to know and obey God’s Word to fulfill His unique purposes for their lives (Eph. 2:10 – discipleship).
Again, looking at the servant, Rebekah and her family as examples of people who knew the Lord, we see how they obeyed the Lord and thus God’s purposes were realized. The servant made a long journey, prayed continually for God’s will to please his earthly master Abraham. We see his enthusiasm when he refused to eat before he spoke of his purpose (vv. 32-49 – God’s will). He used the gifts Abraham (God) had given him (vv. 47-52) to bless and woo Rebekah to Isaac and we are called to use God-given gifts to lead people to Christ. (1 Peter 4:10; Eph. 2:10: Rom. 12:4-8; Eph. 4:11-13: 1 Cor. 12:1-31) We see Rebekah’s free will choice (vv. 57-61) and radical obedience to leave her family (she probably never saw them again) and marry a man she had never seen – all by faith. This is a picture of our love and obedience for Jesus. “You love him (Jesus) even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your soul (an eternal love relationship with the King of kings).”(1 Peter 1:8-9 NLT)
Now let’s apply this to our lives today. We, like Abraham and all those seen in the above account, are called to carry out God’s will and unique purpose for our lives. But unlike Abraham’s servant, we have the Bible, the indwelling Holy Spirit and many other resources for guidance that they did not have. Below are some guidelines and principles on how to know God’s will for our day-to-day lives all for this ultimate purpose – to lead people to the Lord Jesus Christ and teach them how to obey Him for the glory, honor and pleasure of God. (Rev. 4:11; Phil. 2:12-13; Rom. 11:36)
Before I list some of the ways to know God’s will let me mention a message my friend Gary Adams shared with our men’s fellowship on the purpose and “good” of suffering as a way to learn God’s will. (Gary had pancreatic cancer and went through surgery and is cancer free today. Praise You Lord!!) As Gary learned and testified, pain is a major way to learn God’s will, and the more I live (and suffer myself) and see how God uses suffering in the lives of others, I too see that PAIN can be a primary means God uses to disciple us into greater obedience to Him. “Even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” (Heb. 5:8) Jesus never disobeyed God but His suffering made Him more and more yielded to God's will so even when He saw the horror of the cross He said, "If it is possible Father let this cup pass from me but nevertheless Thy will be done." (Matt. 26:39) It is wise to take time alone with the Lord and recall the seasons of suffering in our life and ask the Lord to show us how we have learned or can learn to be more obedient to Him because of the lesson learned through the pain. Otherwise we waste our suffering and God’s purpose for the pain, and usually have to be disciplined by the Lord in this area all over again.
Here are some key Scriptures on knowing God’s will:
*God’s Word: 2 Tim. 3:16; Psalm 119:105
*Prayer: Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Thess. 5:16-18; Psalm 143:8; 25:4-5
*The Holy Spirit: John 16:13; 1 John 2:27
*Counsel from mature Christians: Prov. 15:22
*The desires of your heart; Psalm 37:4
*Providential circumstances –open doors; Rom. 8:28
*Common sense: The Book of Proverbs
*Yet be open to things uncommon – beyond your natural understanding; Jer. 33:3
*A clear conscience and inner peace: Acts 24:16; Col. 3:15
*A humble, teachable attitude toward God: Psalm 40:8; John 7:17
*Putting God’s will first: Matt. 6:33
*Separation from worldliness: Psalm 1:1; 1 Peter 1:15; Rom. 12:1-2
*God’s Word regarding unclear issues: 1 Cor. 6:12; 8:9; 10:31
*Waiting on the Lord: Psalm 27:14; Isa. 30:15-18 “I am not going anywhere until I hear from the Lord.”
*Legal obligations- obey the government; Rom. 13:1
*Getting away to a lonely place to be quiet and hear God’s still small voice: Luke 5:16; 1 Kings 19:12-13; Psalm 46:10
*Seek hard after God’s wisdom as if it were gold: Prov. 2:1-12
*God’s timing. It may be God’s will but we may need to wait for God’s timing. This involves most of the Scriptures above. When we pray and seek His will: Sometimes God says No! Sometimes God says Go! Sometimes God says Slow!
Regarding counsel from mature Christians (Prov. 15:22): the more autonomy a man has the more potential he may have for not taking the time (and humility) to seek the counsel of others. It would be wise for business owners to have a group of mature Christian men (an advisory board) from whom they receive counsel on key decisions.
What did the Lord say to you through this message?
What valuable lessons on life and faith have you learned through pain and suffering? “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)
Which of the above ways of seeking God’s will do you draw on the most? Which do you feel you need to draw on more often? “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:4-5)
Until He comes, Len and Kristen